Thursday, March 26, 2009
Lawmakers in the U.S. are set to force benefits recipients to have random drugs testing.
The push comes as more and more Americans turn to state safety nets to ride out the recession.
However the strategy is not coordinated nationwide, working instead on a state-by-state basis, with differing consequences across the states for claimants who are found to be using drugs.
A British initiative last summer called for addicts to admit their condition and accept treatment in return for benefits – and forced them to repay handouts if they were caught lying.
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Hardcore heroin and crack cocaine users in particular were targeted with threats they could be jailed if they refused treatment while receiving benefits under the initiatives last summer.
But poverty and civil liberties advocates in the U.S. fear the strategy could backfire, discouraging some people from seeking financial aid and making already-desperate situations worse.
Those in favour of the drug tests say they are motivated out of a concern for their constituents’ health and ability to put themselves on more solid financial footing once the economy rebounds.
But they concede they also want to send a message: you don’t get something for nothing.
This article was posted: Thursday, March 26, 2009 at 9:33 am